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Court Addresses Defendant’s Waiver of His Right to Appeal in New York Drug and Gun Possession Case

New York drug and gun offenses and convictions can have long-term repercussions, including lengthy prison sentences. Defendants must understand their rights after being arrested, charged, or convicted of a criminal offense. Additionally, it is vital that defendants understand the typical steps of a New York criminal case. Including, arraignment, pre-trial discovery and pre-trial motions, trial, and sentencing. An attorney is a critical resource during this complex process because decisions made during these steps may drastically change the outcome of a criminal case.

An appellate court recently issued a decision in the defendant’s appeal of his criminal conviction of possession of a weapon in the third degree. The case addressed several issues, including the validity of a court’s denial of the defendant’s motion to controvert a search warrant and suppress evidence. In this case, police officers pulled the defendant over for a defective headlight. The officer asked the defendant for his license and registration, and when the defendant rolled down his window, the officer detected the smell of marijuana. The defendant explained that he smoked marijuana earlier in the day. The officer shined his flashlight and noticed an expandable baton. The officer’s computer search revealed that the defendant had an arrest warrant; thus, the officer placed the defendant under arrest.

At the precinct, the officer told the defendant that a K-9 unit was searching the vehicle, at which point the defendant responded that “you can do that all you want, whatever’s in the car, the cars not registered to me, my prints aren’t on it.” The police then obtained and executed a search warrant on the car, where they discovered drugs and a weapon. At a suppression hearing, the court denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence and statements to the officers. The defendant then challenged the search warrant; however, the court denied the defendant’s motion. The defendant pleaded guilty; however, on appeal, the defendant challenged his appeal waiver’s validity.

The defendant argued that when explaining his right to appeal, the court stated that no higher court would review the proceedings, “[n]o lawyer will pursue an appeal” on the defendant’s behalf, and the defendant’s “plea and sentence will be final.” In this case, the court found that the statements mischaracterized the nature of the defendant’s rights. Further, the statement, incorrectly suggested that the waiver would be an absolute bar to an appeal. Finally, the written waiver did not clarify the ambiguities in the court’s explanation. The court ultimately found that the appeal waiver was invalid and did not preclude the defendant’s challenge. And because, according to the court. the evidence supports a valid stop based on probable cause, the defendant’s motion to suppress was without merit.

Have You Been Charged with New York Criminal Offense?

If you or someone you know is facing New York criminal charges, you should contact the attorneys at Tilem & Associates, PC. The lawyers at our office provide clients with superior representation in their criminal cases. We handle New York drug offenses, assault and battery, theft, robbery and homicide, and weapons offenses. Our attorneys stay apprised of relevant changes in New York criminal statutes and case law. When you work with Tilem & Associates, you can expect to receive the individualized attention you deserve. Contact our office at 877-377-8666, to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney at our law firm.

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